Despite 34 points from junior Cara Ursin, Destrehan’s season came to an end last Thursday at Natchitoches Central as the hosts defeated the Wildcats 77-67 in a Class 5A girls basketball quarterfinal game.
Natchitoches Central (26-7) advanced to the Top 28 tournament with the win to compete in the state semifinals. The win over Destrehan (26-3) was the Lady Chiefs 13th straight, while DHS saw its own 13 game win streak snapped.
“It’s a tough loss,” Destrehan coach Angi Butler said. “Actually, we’ve usually played better away from home. It was a crazy, hostile environment and it was difficult for a multitude of reasons to find our bearings. They had a girl shoot the lights out … these games come down to having the mental strength to push through, and we weren’t ready. We were physically ready, but not mentally ready.”
Chiefs sophomore Jolie Williams caught fire from the field, scoring 36 points, canning nine 3-pointers on the way to that mark.
“She hit a 3, then we’d come back with two, then she hit another three and put us down double figures,” Butler said. “It was that kind of night. We couldn’t get the momentum shifted in our direction.
“Credit to (Williams) for shooting the way she did. Their coach told me after the game that was the best they’ve seen her shoot all year … we adjusted our defense but we weren’t able to adapt well enough.”
It was the second meeting of the season between the teams, though the first of official record. Destrehan had downed Natchitoches Central by three in a Hall of Fame exhibition game.
The sixth-seeded Wildcats trailed the third-seeded Chiefs by as many as 20 points in the game. Natchitoches Central opened the second half on a 17-2 run.
Destrehan ended the third quarter on a 15-1 run to climb back into the game, but ultimately couldn’t completely close the gap.
The Chiefs got 12 points each from Kierra Brimzy and Eladriana Payton while LaDayja McIntosh scored 10.
Complimenting Ursin’s 34 points were Kiki Kenner and Brandi Mason, who scored 15 and 14, respectively, for Destrehan.
But Butler said her team needed at least one more player to step up in this case.
“They had four players score in double figures to our three … in a game like that, you need everyone to step up,” Butler said. “We didn’t rebound like we should have (and) they were quicker than we were. It was a lot of things that just added up on the night.”
It was a disappointing end of the season for Destrehan, which was not able to extend a streak of Top 28 appearances to three this season.
Still, Butler kept her team’s accomplishments in perspective: the Wildcats finished with three losses or fewer for the third time in three seasons and extended their run of district championships to four straight.
“Looking at the season in retrospect, the girls were successful,” Butler said. “It’s obviously disappointing. We hoped and expected to go further than we did. But I’m proud of our girls.”